Alan Ameche League – Official Vegas Odds 2003
November 8, 2003 (Revised 11/09/03)
As some of you know, this past week I sat for the CPA exam, for the 4th time. The drill is old and the exam really hasn’t changed all that much, if at all, since I originally took it in 1997 (although if you didn’t take the exam before 1999, you now basically need an MBA to qualify to take it)
This exam was historical in that it will be the last CPA exam given under the current “pencil and paper” format. Under this format, candidates nationwide all sat for the exam all at the same time, on the same day, taking the same exam and answering the same questions. The test involves some essays, but mostly consists of multiple-choice questions where you fill in the bubble. Think of the SAT tests you took when you were in high school, or tests you took in college.
You may be asking: OK, Pete, what the hell does this have to do with the Vegas Odds. Are you just going off on one of your dumb tangents, like last year when you compared the Ameche League to Fast Times at Ridgemont High and TONY jerking off on the toilet in his post office uniform fantasizing about Tracy McGrady scoring 40. Well, yes, and no. Aside from squeezing in an additional crack about TONY jerking off on the toilet in his postman’s uniform, here is the deal:
A lot of how they run this exam brought back memories of high school. Not all good. Part of this is by necessity – the CPA exam is on a par with the bar exam, the medical exam, the postal civil service exam – where everything is regimented and the exam must be tightly controlled, to ensure that no one cheats or gains an unfair advantage. For instance, we were not allowed to leave the cell block – uh, test room – until after 2 hours. The reason for this, was so that it would be that much more difficult for someone in that room to take off and call his buddy in California: “Hey, heads up: there’s an essay question about auditing fixed asset retirements!” Hey, stranger things have happened. There are also proctors assigned to groups of 30 candidates, who are basically the examiner’s minions – er, assistants - and who make sure that no one is looking over anyone’s shoulder or talking or bringing in any kind of contraband into the test room. Stuff like a can of Coke, a digital watch with a calculator, or a bagel sangwich.
And of course, there were the instructions before the test, given by a guy who was most likely born sometime during the Grover Cleveland administration (the first one), with all the humor of someone reading the phone book. You will not communicate with any other candidates during the exam. You will not have any cell phones or bags. If you have a sweatshirt, it must be either worn or under your seat. At the end, when I say stop, you must stop writing immediately. The whole thing was rather intimidating, even for someone who’s been through it before. My personal favorite, though, was when we left, we needed to get an Exit Pass from your proctor, which we had to turn in before we left. (the exit was about an average of 75 feet from the tables) Swell.
I was waiting for someone to ask, what, if we don’t get a lav pass do we get detention? No one did – perhaps the fear of being permanently barred from taking the exam had something to do with it – but it did get me thinking a bit about detention. Surely, you remember detention. It was punishment for would-be wayward youths, who did stupid or naughty stuff in school. Like talk out of turn in class, or fart, or throw paper airplanes. I was no exception, and without question the first detention I got was easily the most memorable (and, perhaps, the most foreboding of things to come, ever.) I was in 7th grade, and it was October 2, 1978 - the afternoon the Yankees played the Red Sox in that infamous one game playoff. I was in Science class (6th period) at about quarter after 12 and was scribbling furiously on a piece of paper something that did not have to do with science. Finally the teacher, in the middle of a sentence, said to me, “May I have that (piece of paper), please?” So, sheepishly, and with my cheeks burning, I brought up the offending document - a “news exclusive from Fenway Park” regarding the big game, to be played that afternoon. This merited me my first ever detention. (I also remember being absolutely inconsolable in the immediate aftermath, panicking about how my parents would react to this. Good times.) My other favorite detention memory, which did not involve me directly, also came from the 1978-79 academic year, when Joe the janitor (a wonderful man, by the way) sent three kids to the Principal’s Office for – horrors! – eating Donuts in the bathroom. As Jack Paar said, I kid you not. (And no, TONY, I don’t remember what kind of donuts they were.)
So, this year for Vegas Odds, in addition to designating the odds that each of us have of winning this thing, and getting my other shots in, I will also be designating one player for an all-day, Breakfast Club style detention, to be held on a date to be determined. An essay will be required, and you cannot study, or do anything – you just sit there, and you think about what you’ve done, and how you got there.
Anyway, here goes, from worst to first:
Maybe Next Year:
White Pete Panthers:
Odds to Win: 999-1
Odds to finish in the Money: 100-1
In Detention: Emmitt Smith.
A tough call between Emmitt and XFL Tommy Maddox, but in the end I had to go with Emmitt. It’s not all Maddox’s fault, he is putting up somewhat decent numbers, but the Steelers are just an absolute mess right now. Plus, for all the knocks I hear about Maddox, many justified, there are two things that you don’t hear that tells you everything need to know:
It’s kind of sad, because I really like Emmitt. In fact, he’s got to be one of my favorite athletes ever, if not THE favorite. He’s a class guy, and, as evidenced by those 10-10-220 commercials, a regular riot. But he needed to go. Last year wasn’t the best way to go out, but he had a nice game against Seattle to get the record and acquitted himself fairly well, all things considered. Sure, Parcells caught a little heat letting Emmitt go, but it proved to be the right decision. Of course, Emmitt being Emmitt, he wanted to go out his way, so he went to a so-so (to be kind) Arizona Cardinals team. This drive is why Emmitt will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Unfortunately, however, this gives him a bitter end every bit as sad as a gimpy-kneed OJ Simpson in San Francisco, or a washed-up Franco Harris desperately trying but unable to give the Seahawks a running game in the wake of Curt Warner’s season-ending knee injury (on a Monday afternoon game in 1984, no less) or Tony Dorsett’s sorry showing his last year in Denver. Not to mention Joe Willie’s or Johnny U’s final days. Even Willie Mays was heard to say, “Damn, man, doesn’t dude have any clue that it’s over at all?”
Of course, now XFL Maddox is gone, as is Joe Horn, to Derek for Patrick Ramsey, putting Pete on solid ground next year. Especially at quarterback - of the big-ticket QBs drafted this year, Steve McNair may have been the best, and with Carson Palmer and now Ramsey, Pete’s stoked, this year and beyond. Other prospects, including Justin Fargas also show promise for solid NFL careers. All told, Pete’s a player or two away from being one of the major players in ’04.
Odds to Win: 800-1
Odds to finish in the money: 75-1
In Detention: Amos Zereoue
No shortage of candidates here. Someone has to get left out, kind of the same way that, between Jeter, Garciaparra, Tejada and A-Rod at least one won’t make All-Star.
It came down to Zereoue, Drew Brees and Trung Canidate. Canidate doesn’t make it because, frankly, not much was expected of him, and he was only a buck. Brees comes close, but won’t make it because the Chargers are a mess, they are primarily a running team, and Brees is not in an ideal situation for him to develop.
This leaves Zereoue as Dave and Brandon’s rep in detention. Zereoue’s is the biggest disappointment here. After a nice half-season last year, Zereoue was given the starting RB job, giving the Steelers a completely overhauled backfield. On a team that tradionally loves to run as much as the Steelers, this appeared to be nothing short of a godsend – a starting running back for a buck! On the Steelers, no less! Yet Zereoue never really could get it going, eventually losing his job to the broken-down, fat ass bus, Jerome Bettis. Enough said. (I am presuming that Walter Abercrombie was unavailable).
If Dave and Brandon make a run in this league, they can thank Priest Holmes. Not only for being worth all of the 78 dollars that they paid for him, but for getting a king’s ransom from Craig. Arguably, Pennington for Holmes would have been a fair trade; but Dave also got Derrick Mason AND Ike Hilliard. He also got Mike Cloud, so there’s a spot to drop someone and pick up yet another guy for next year. All and all, a good start for a guy in his first year in the league. And, hey, don’t close the book on Zereoue just yet.
Odds to win: 500-1
Odds to finish in the money: 75-1
In Detention: Rich Gannon, hands down.
Somehow, when Tom went 84 for Rich Gannon, I don’t think this was what he had in mind.
Last year, the worry with the Raiders were that they were too old, and too expensive, and that there was no way they could keep the band together. Well, most of the gang came back this year, and, I have to admit, I am quite surprised they are playing as poorly as they have been. And it could be a lot worse: remember, they mounted a furious comeback to beat the Chargers, and were lucky to escape with a win against the Bengals. Other than that you’re looking down the barrel at 0 and 8.
(Sidebar: Rich Gannon is an alumnus of the University of Delaware. The Fightin’ Blue Hens, Division 1-AA powerhouse. Have you ever seen the Hens’ helmets? They are exactly like the University of Michigan’s. I think it comes from the old leather helmets, and the golden lines painted on it are designed to resemble supposedly “a tiger with his fangs out.” Oooooo-kay. What the hell “a tiger with his fangs out” has to do with that helmet, or more specifically a Fightin’ Blue Hen, is for minds greater than mine to figure out. But then again, Wolverines are not native to the State of Michigan, so who the hell knows.)
As to why Tom is languishing in the nether regions. When you spend more than half your salary on two quarterbacks, and by mid season your regular starters are Quincy Carter and Chris Chandler, you are in, as George Bush once said, deep shit.
Odds to win: 50-1
Odds to finish in the money: 6-1
In Detention: Drew Bledsoe
Sorry Walt and Bruce, but Bledsoe is not all that. There’s a reason that Bill Belichick went with Tom Brady and let Drew Bledsoe go – to a divisional rival, no less. Simply put, Bledsoe isn’t that great. He’s not all that. He had all that talent last year, and this year, and what the hell have they done with it. Hey, nothing wrong with being .500 – if you’re the Bengals. More was expected here.
It’s fair to ask: if Bledsoe is so great, then why haven’t the Bills won anything with him there? I mean, Rich Gannon goes to Oakland, and they win. Randall Cunningham helped the Vikings to go 15-1. Doug Williams (and his lifetime sub-50% completion percentage) wins a Super Bowl for the Redskins. Even Dan Marino (who by the way I think was HIGHLY overrated, especially for his “comeback” ability) had his share of winning seasons, especially right off the bat. So why can’t Bledsoe do anything? Certainly he has the talent, and the Bills have the talent, and Week 1 this year looked for all the world like Bledsoe and the Bills were going to the Super Bowl. Nothing was going to stop them - shit, all the pundits had their Super Bowl tickets printed, had Gregg Williams anointed as the next big genius, and depicted Bill Belichick as being a grumpy, misanthropic yutz possessing slightly more football sense than my cocker spaniels.
Different story now.
Hey, as a Pat fan, I truly appreciate what Bledsoe did for the franchise. No one gave a shit about the Patriots before he and Parcells turned the ship around. I didn’t give a shit about the Patriots before he and Parcells turned the ship around. They helped build a fan base where there was no fan base. They helped create fan interest when there was none. When the Patriots were rumored to be moving to Saint Louis in 1993, people (myself included) were hoping and praying that it wouldn’t happen – no, not now, not when the team FINALLY is starting to look like they’ve got something going. Lastly, no one can deny that Bledsoe’s character and personality contributed to the public goodwill that got that gorgeous stadium built. Would the New England Patriots still be the New England Patriots if Bledsoe never came? Probably, but who knows. This much, however, is certain: the Patriots wouldn’t be where they are now if it weren’t for him.
All that said, however, anyone who tries to tell me that the Patriots right now would be better off with Drew Bledsoe than Tom Brady is just crazy. No way Bledsoe drives the Patriots down the field to save their season (and no, it was not a fumble – or at least, so said the NFL’s Director of Officiating, and I think he knows a bit more of what he speaks than the drunken, face-painted yahoo in the upper deck.) No way Bledsoe rallies a disheartened and shell-shocked Patriots team down the field, 60 yards in 90 seconds with no time outs to win the Super Bowl. No way that Bledsoe finds a way to win last week against the Broncos, in Denver. No way with Bledsoe at quarterback, tying up as much money as he’s tying up, that this team is 7-2 as I write this.
Oh, and while on the subject, I guess the Patriots really stepped in it when they let Lawyer Milloy go too. Yeah, that really set the defense back five years.
Long Hill Peteriots:
Odds to Win: 40-1
Odds to finish in the Money: 11-2
In Detention: Corey Dillon.
Figures. Pete trades for Corey Dillon – not once, but TWICE – and he gets rewarded with 7 carries, for 5 yards, and zero points. Considering he was a big part of the Daunte Culpepper trade, I would say this qualifies Corey for a day with Richard Vernon on a blustery Saturday.
By the way, this is no mean feat. Until recently, Kurt Warner appeared for all the world to have this detention slot nailed down – 45 dollars, 10 points, and his better half there running her mouth off to the radio station - how could he miss? The fact though is that he did. What saved him is the knowledge that Warner will likely be somewhere else next year, where he’ll get another chance to justify his salary. Why it went badly for him so fast in Saint Louis I don’t know, but I refuse to believe that a guy that I was convinced was the second coming of Johnny Unitas is all done.
On the other hand, I don’t know what the hell is up with Corey Dillon. For the first time in forever, here he is, with a chance to be part of something special in Cincinnati, and what’s he doing. Running his mouth off about how he wants to go to Dallas. (Memo to Corey: Billy P says, “Sorry, not interested. Awwwight? Awww-kay?”)
Extra bonus points to Pete by the way for trading for “The Coreys” (Dillon and Bradford), although tragically they never started the same week.
Odds to Win: 30-1
Odds to finish in the Money: 11-2
In Detention: Donovan McNabb
McNabb is currently being outscored by, among others, Drew Brees, Tim Couch and Kyle Boller, and is 4 points ahead of both Kordell Stewart (hasn’t played for a month) and Tim Rattay (played one game in Week 9). Can’t think that Bob SR had this in mind when he spent 81 for the kid. Also can’t think that McNabb would be traded primarily for a wide receiver – and the guy who got the wide receiver was considered to make the “safe” play!
Nonetheless, there is some good upside here – Chad Johnson has been a revelation this year, and you gotta love the trade for Joe Horn and Tommy Maddox, reaffirming Derek’s status as the biggest wheeler-dealer in this league this side of TONY (more on that later). If there’s a guy in this league that can MacGyver his way into the money, it’s Derek. Especially if McNabb reads this write up and gets pissed off and all kinds of motivated to prove me wrong. Either that, or he and his mom can come to my office and deliver us all Chunky Soup.
Odds to Win: 25-1
Odds to finish in the Money: 4-1
In Detention: Marshall Faulk
A little unfair, being that he’s been hurt, but another guy that went for big money that just hasn’t put the numbers up, so far. Considering that he’s had one of the biggest seasons for a running back in the history of this league, you expect a lot more. Honorable mention to Kyle Boller, who probably did the best job of parlaying one solid college season into a lucrative pro contract this side of Chris Wilcox, but it’s not overly suprising when you look at the receiving corps he has to work with, and the fact that with Jamal Lewis being solid as he has been, he hasn’t needed to throw.
There’s actually a lot to like here, especially if Faulk comes back soon. Trent Green is solid and is probably due for some big games. Jeff Blake is doing what he does best – putting up great numbers for a crappy team. He’s kind of like Juwan Howard in basketball in that regard. Chris Chambers is fantastic, and may go for 25-30 bucks next year – easily the best receiver to come out of Wisconsin since Al Toon. Plus I’ve always been a fan of Jimmy Smith (though I wonder how he’ll do with another rookie QB there) and Vanderjagt is a kicker that fantasy teams win with.
Not much has to go Greg’s way for him to be a factor down the stretch, and of the teams in this cluster, he may have the most upside.
The Only Good Chapins…..
Odds to Win: 10-1
Odds to Finish in the Money: Even
In Detention: Jerry Rice
See Smith, Emmitt. Actually, not quite as bad, but it’s clear now he stayed a year too long. At least with Rice you can say that he had two solid “told ya so” seasons in Oakland, and did contribute and did make a difference and helped them win (even though, throughout the Snow Game in Foxboro my brother and I had the running gag about Jerry Rice being separated at birth from Steve Urkel from “Family Matters”: “Mmmmm, Did I Do That?” Good times.)
There’s a question at second quarterback, especially if Mike Vick doesn’t come back, but Ahman Green and Travis Henry (if healthy) are solid and reliable. Other than Keenan McCardell he’s treading water with his receivers but he’s still got one of the better teams in there. Enough to win? Not as currently constituted. Enough to finish in the Top 5? Yes.
Odds to Win: 8-1
Odds to Finish in the Money: 5-6
In Detention: Bubba Franks
Yeah, I know he’s just a tight end and isn’t expected to do much. But 16 points? In half a season? With Brett Favre throwing to him? Shit, Jay Riemersma is within shouting distance of dude, basically on the strength of one play!
The truth is that it’s actually hard to find a guy on this team who deserves to spend a day in detention. Picking up Kitna more than made up for McNabb, as it turns out. Moe Williams and Michael Pittman have been economical solutions at running back – like a Yugo, they aren’t flashy and may not last very long, but they’re cheap and, at least right now, effective and reliable. He can still challenge for the ring, but at this point it may be somewhat of a reach.
The Big Kahunas:
Odds to Win: 3-2
Odds to Finish in the Money: 1-20
In Detention: Mike Cloud
Sorry, Craig, even though you traded him to the Roadrunners, you’re still on the hook for Mike Cloud. This is yet another example in the long and sad line of legendary free agent pickups who went for mega-dollars on the basis of one strong week, and were never heard from again. Cloud was a “flavor of the month” at running back for the Patriots, where in one game I believe he matched his career rushing total over 4 years with the Chefs. At that time, this had all the makings of a warm, fuzzy Cinderella story: the former BC hero, career underachiever in Kansas City, seizing an opportunity to make his mark with his hometown club, who was in dire straits for anyone resembling a real running back. Does great one day and merits a $29 pool bid (and several bids over $20) only to bitterly disappoint his frustrated owner in the end. Thus once again proving the old adage, that sometimes, when you win, you really lose.
Not that that has made much of a difference. There’s actually quite a lot to like here. Craig’s running backs may be even better than they were last year – no mean feat, that: Deuce, Clinton Portis, and Dominack Davis (not to mention Priest Freakin’ Holmes). TJ Duckett is the idiot that carries the bags. However, the cost to complete this backfield for the ages was substantial: Chad Pennington, Derrick “Moose” Mason and Ike Hilliard. And it does make Craig suddenly very vulnerable at receiver after Marvin Harrison. Still, there are far worse things to be thin at. And he’s still got Marvin Harrison!!!!
In the nine previous seasons of this league, we haven’t had a repeat winner in this league, but Craig officially has a decent shot to become the first.
Odds to Win: Even
Odds to Finish in the Money: 1-20
A one-time musclehead from Austria got elected governor of California.
I just got a call from Satan; he says he’s cold.
And now this: TONY and Phil have the team to beat.
It’s true. Everything has gone their way. They have arguably the best one-two punch at quarterback in the league, Brad Johnson and Daunte Culpepper (memo to PGar: does that tandem look familiar?). If Edgerrin James comes back, their running game is right there with Craig’s, and is probably better. Their receivers are a problem – to say that Plaxico and Peerless have not lived up to expectations is a bit like saying Rosie O’Donnell is a little chubby and can get a bit testy at times – but there’s always the chance someone breaks out, or emerges. And while we all talk about who we’d want to be our quarterback in a 2 minute drill to save our lives, if you needed someone to make a trade for someone specific to save your life, who else would you want other than TONY?
For almost 20 years now, TONY has been one of my best friends. Just about everyone I associate with socially I met either directly or indirectly through him. Throughout these years, I have long tried to figure out what inspired TONY as a young lad to become the relentless bordering on obsessive trading legend that he has become. And I think I have finally figured it out, and, really, the answer is quite simple:
TONY’s all-time hero and role model, is Sam I Am from the Dr. Seuss book, “Green Eggs and Ham.”
Think about it. It makes perfect sense. Sam I Am is chipper, upbeat, a bit unkempt and always has a bill of goods he desperately wants to peddle, in this case, Green Eggs and Ham. TONY is chipper, upbeat, a bit unkempt and always has a bill of goods he desperately wants to peddle – usually some injured pitcher, or some hack backup forward who strung together a couple good weeks in a row.
Like Sam I Am, TONY relentlessly, cheerfully and joyfully works to break down our defenses. Would you trade Daunte in a box? Would you trade Pedro from the Sox? Would you trade Emmitt in a boat? How about Sosa with a Goat?
And we say, wearily, We’ll not trade Daunte here or there, we will not trade him anywhere! We do not want that Darvin Ham. We do not want him, Sam I Am!
Eventually, though, TONY will finally break through, and we’ll say, Fine, I will trade, just let me be; I will trade him, you will see. And of course, in the end, we actually like the trade (most of the time, anyway,) we actually benefit from it, and Sam I Am (or, should I say, SAM I AM) becomes our good pal.
Of course there’s also something to be said that TONY’s team in this league never amounted to jack squat until Phil came on board to kick some ass and right the ship. Kind of like Jack Welch did at General Electric. Now, they look to be on the verge of making some more history - the first co-owned team to ever win it all, in any of these leagues.
This concludes the Vegas Odds for 2003. We now return you to the arts…..